Winners at the 2021 Fieldays Innovation Awards have shown how Kiwi ingenuity and cutting-edge ideas are tackling the primary industry's biggest challenges.
The winners were announced June 17, after more than 65 entries were received from across New Zealand.
The awards had a new format for 2021, after Covid-19 saw the 2020 event hosted online, Fieldays Innovation Event Manager Gail Hendricks said.
"Categories were organised to follow the innovation life cycle and provide the support, mentoring and exposure innovators needed to bring their revolutionary products to market or grow market share."
Innovation had been at the core of Fieldays since its inception more than 50 years ago and this year was no exception, Hendricks said.
"The calibre of entries for our 2021 event has taken things to the next level and showcased the primary industry's latest and greatest technology and developments."
Award categories included: Prototype, Early Stage, Growth and Scale, and Young Innovator.
The head judges across the three categories include: Peter Dowd, founder and principal consultant at Anago Ltd; Andrew Cooke, Managing Director at Rezare Systems; and Tony Parker Professor Emeritus at Massey University.
Prototype award winner - Springarm Products Ltd
Springarm Products Limited achieved the seemingly impossible: inventing a ballcock arm that won't break. Instead of snapping when put under pressure, the Springarm flexes, saving farmers water, time, money, and stress.
One evening, Springarm inventor, Ric Awburn was standing at the empty trough on the farm he managed.
Observing the cows, he noticed when they nudged the ballcock, the arm would just snap.
He thought - "if only it could give a little."
Two years later, Springarm Products Limited had developed a durable and reliable ballcock arm that's easy to install – they call it the "farmer's little saviour."
Springarm Products Limited was "totally gobsmacked, and completely floored," when they were announced as a winner on the awards night, Director Marianne Awburn said.
Listen to Jamie Mackay interview Ric Awburn on The Country below:
Springarm Products Limited received non-stop positive feedback from farmers at the Fieldays Innovation Hub, Awburn.
"We've just watched all of these people come in and seeing the relief on their faces because there's a solution to their problem that they've been facing for so long.
"Some of the older generations of dairy farmers have come in and said, 'Why didn't you invent this when I still had my farm?'"
Early Stage award and the Young Innovator's award - Cropsy Technologies
Cropsy Technologies took home not one, but two Fieldays Innovation Awards: the Early Stage Award and the Young Innovator's Award.
The team of young engineers, Leila, Ali, Rory, Winston, and Hank used their scalable AI enabled hardware with crop analytics.
Getting their name out there and sharing the work Cropsy was doing in the Fieldays Innovation Hub was amazing, co-founder and chief operational officer, Leila Deljkovic said.
"Seeing all the other things going on is so cool, there's a lot of researchers here and it's all cutting edge innovation. We've been enjoying networking and connecting with people that we could potentially work with."
The idea started with Ali's internship at a hydroponic organisation where he was researching the pain points for growers, Deljkovic said.
"Growers can't monitor every vine in their vineyard, and they don't have the resources to. Being engineers we thought, how can we help?"
The result of their efforts was a camera that could be attached to the front of a tractor.
The camera had machine learning that looked out for disease, counts bunches of vines, detected missing or dying vines, and anything that was wrong with the plants.
With Cropsy's innovation, growers could minimise crop loss, estimate yield to improve supply chains, and replant with precision.
"Getting our name out there and sharing the work we've been doing has been amazing," Deljkovic said.
Cropsy was currently trialling with large enterprise wineries, including Pernod Ricard Winemakers, and was looking for pilot partners for commercial deployment next season.
Growth and Scale award - IGS Limited
Based in Scotland and the United States, IGS Limited couldn't make it to New Zealand this Fieldays due to border restrictions, but that didn't stop them winning the Growth and Scale award.
IGS Limited took vertical farming technology to new heights with their Growth Towers.
The vertical farm-in-a-box was Internet of Things enabled and powered by a 3-tier intelligent system to deliver Total Control Environment Agriculture.
It had the potential to deliver maximum yield with quality and consistency, using 50 per cent less energy and 80 per cent less labour.
Although IGS Limited couldn't attend Fieldays in person this year, they said were superbly represented by the British High Commission and the Department for International Trade.
IGS Limited CEO, David Farquhar, said they were very proud to receive the award and that the potential of the product to enhance and enable sustainable, local food production was being recognised.
"We were delighted to receive this prestigious award. The recognition which comes from Fieldays, and particularly the vast and experienced agricultural and food producing communities within New Zealand is very significant."
"The New Zealand market presents an interesting opportunity for IGS as experienced farmers and growers consider opportunities to diversify their agricultural approaches and consider new and innovative technologies to enhance their future sustainability," he said.